Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Haque told the US that the process of forming trade unions will be simplified by gradually reducing the rate of workers’ consent or signature. He said these things during a press briefing after a meeting with Lina Khan, Labor Attache of the US Embassy and First Secretary (Political) Mathew Behr at the Secretariat on Sunday.
At this time, the Secretary of Law and Justice Department. Golam Sarwar and Additional Secretary (Acting Secretary) Hafiz Ahmed Chowdhury of Legislative and Parliamentary Department were present along with senior officials of the Ministry.
Anisul Haque said America wants to work with the Bangladesh government as a partner in reducing the ‘threshold’ (signature rate of workers to form trade unions) in the labor industry. He said, America is very conscious about the rights of workers, it is a very important issue for them. It is also a matter of great importance to the Bangladesh government and the Awami League government. It is so important that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has kept the Ministry of Labor and Employment in her own hands.
The minister said, ‘labor rights were discussed at the US Embassy’s labor office. We have been having this discussion with them since last year. From time to time the progress made and whether any further progress is possible was discussed.’
Anisul Haque said, ‘The subject of discussion today was that the labor law which went to the President, has been returned for a special reason. I have already explained that reason to you earlier. That matter has been discussed.’
The law minister said, ‘I have also said that I will sit in discussion with a team of the Ministry of Labor next Wednesday. The ILO Governing Body is meeting in March, to be fully aware of our progress and there are a couple of things they want to know, which we will let them know after that meeting. Our discussions have been very productive and the United States has not raised objections or anything like that.’
What is their statement about the threshold, the minister said, ‘They have a statement about the threshold, it has always been there. Regarding the threshold, I said, we have brought it down to 15 percent. There is a condition, it will be applicable only where there are three thousand or more workers in the factory. There can be a discussion about that. They also said that there are very few factories with 3,000 or more than 3,000 workers. When the question came in this regard, I said, we will be able to decide it after discussing it with the stakeholders.’
Anisul Haque said about whether they are asking for 10 percent signature rate of the workers, ‘It is 10 percent of General Ye. I have made it clear that the employers’ and workers’ federations that we have, have always said that a gradual reduction would be good for them. It will be reduced according to Bangladesh labor rights climate. This is our decision. That’s why we will focus on reducing slowly.’